Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WWII Maps... Totally appropriate for a kids' room, right?

I'm slightly obsessed with maps, especially older, out of date maps. It's the history teacher in me. And without a classroom to decorate, I have to plaster maps somewhere, right?

Say... Maybe... all over my son's bedroom wall opposite the wall of forward-facing shelves??


I picked up a collection of six large, folded maps for $4 at the Route 11 Yard Crawl last year.

All six maps are from old issues of The National Geographic Magazine and 4 of the 6 have dates written on the back in pencil. I've got the Northern Hemisphere (date unknown?), the United States (July 1946), Japan (April 1944), Germany (July 1944), the Soviet Union (December 1944), and India (date unknown?).

Yeah... I hung maps from World War II in my son's room. This way, when Joseph plays with his green army men, he can pretend he's in his very own "war room". See? Perfectly normal. Right? Someone had better keep an eye on me or I might start hanging WWII propaganda posters next...


Sort of.

Back before I built the forward facing shelves, when that same wall looked like this...

...I tacked my collection of National Geographic maps up on the wall so that I could get a sense for whether or not I wanted to use them in the room.

Really, the decision was made the moment I saw them on the walls. The maps perfectly complimented the paint color which was originally intended for my own office area. I'm just not in a repainting frame of mind... er... belly? Besides, I like the color.

So, once the forward-facing shelves were finished, I turned my attention to the newly barren wall opposite them.

I used the remainder of the pack of free door molding that I used for the kitchen pantry & forward-facing shelves to cut out "frames" for the maps with the miter saw.

Easy enough since I just had to cut a bunch of 45 degree angles, but it took a while because I wanted my measurements to be exact and I was trying to be as conservative with the molding as possible.

I finished off the whole pack just three pieces short of 6 complete frames. I bought a 10 foot length of the same exact pre-primed MDF molding from Lowes for $7, bringing the cost of this project to a whopping $11.

I labeled each frame piece on the backs, noting the map it went with and whether it was a vertical or horizontal piece.

I used push tacks in the top center of each map to hold it in place and then made sure it was level before using the same push tacks on each of the corners to secure it.

It took me a while before I was happy with the layout, mostly because I kept trying to work all six maps into the same space. Since all of the maps are different shapes, Japan is drawn in portrait format, and the Northern Hemisphere is a small square, this didn't work out so well.

I finally chucked the Northern Hemisphere and everything fell into place. Based on the width of the molding and the fact that I didn't want the maps too spread out, I measured 5 inches between each of the maps.

Then, I found a new home for the N. Hemisphere above Joseph's mirror.

With all the maps secured by thumb tacks, I positioned, leveled, and then tacked the bottom pieces of the "frames" into place with the nail gun finisher. I made sure not to put any nails through my maps.

I put the side and top pieces of the frames on using the same method and I really love the overall effect. I especially liked using the finisher for this project because it was quick and everything is secure, but when I eventually need to take the maps down, I can easily remove the molding with a few hard tugs.

I know this because I had to reposition Germany & the Soviet Union since my original measurements were a bit off and they were too close to each other. The bottom pieces of molding came off easy-peasy after 5 or 6 well placed tugs. Adult tugs, mind you. I think the frames are plenty safe from small children. Plus, there's no giant frame glass for rambunctious little boys to break!

I still have to go around and caulk the corners & nail holes, but I'm still so gosh darn happy with it!

The two blue globes were a $1 each at two different yard sales and the fabulous beige globe was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law Sarah.

The old, worn glove came from Goodwill Outlet, but the baseball & marbles were just things I already had.

I still think the dresser top is in need of some old books and a little more space & rearranging. The short dresser isn't staying. I have to play musical dressers with the upstairs when I start work on the nursery and our longest dresser will be placed under the maps.

I love the old school desk. It's definitely staying for now.

I really, really like how the "frames" turned out. Finding six real frames in the perfect sizes & proportions would have cost way too much and been a pain in the butt. I much prefer my $11 total. And I like being able to see the old creases in the maps.

I'm aiming for gender neutral with this room because, although it's Joseph's room right now, it will eventually be the kids' room.

 I think I'm getting there.

The mirror was actually a side of the road find from some family member. So, free again! Yay!

I hung the mirror after unsuccessfully trying to get Joseph interested in all of his Goodwill Outlet hats & costumes. He was all about Mommy wearing the Darth Vader mask, but would he wear it? NO. Then my mom suggested that he needed a mirror near his costume bin so that he could see what he was wearing. Genius. Thank you, mother of 4. I bow to your wisdom & experience. Problem solved.

Indie is in the house. And, apparently, he likes to carry around a stuffed Tigger...

You call him Doc-tah Jones, Doll!

So, whatcha think? Got any giant maps lying around in need of frames? I'm telling you, this is the way to go!


  1. You are AMAZING!! I'm so glad you tackled this project, because maybe now I can get around to putting a frame around our giant map. :) I am a huge copycat. :)
    I love the layout you chose and it looks SO GOOD with the wall color.
    Ok. Now that we've had some orange juice it seems that the dance party in my uterus has ended and it's sleepytime again. ;) Goodnight!

  2. This looks SO good. I love that you framed the maps right on the wall. That is awesome. And the colors are pretty much perfection with the wall colors. Wow! Love.

    And, we have a little school desk in the nursery, too. It was actually a desk from Ryan's grandpa's one-room schoolhouse. His grandpa bought it and refinished it when they closed it down. Pretty cool, right?

    Did you get my email about the map dating chart you sent me? Ryan and I had a blast trying to figure out the date. I love having a history teacher on call. ;)

    And, seriously, Mrs. 5C ^^^ You need to get on framing your map. You don't have enough going on anyhow. Geesh. ;)

  3. I love this, it looks great!


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